A report on “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie

Beleive it or not, Turbeau Curbeau was once a very astute student.  Here is an essay that I wrote for an English class way back when.  It is a report on the Salman Rushdie book titled “Midnight’s Children”.  The formatting when I copy and pasted it did not work out to well so I aplogize for that but it shouldn’t be to hard to read if your interested in learning about the book.  It is actually a pretty good book as it turns out.

“Smells like
music, hold memories.  She breathed deep
and bottled it up for posterity.” (Roy, 94)
The sense of smell through the use of a nose plays a crucial role in
both The God of Small things by Arundhati Roy and Midnight’s Children by
Salaman Rushdie.  In Midnight’s Children
Rushdie does not hide the fact that noses are key components to the history of
Saleem’s family.  His great-grandfather,
Aadam Aziz who had the first nose talked about can be seen as initiating the
fall of the family when his nose fell to the ground.  Aadam Aziz knelt to the ground and hit his
nose, when blood in the shape of diamonds came pouring out a hole opened up in
him that would not close.  This hole
would lead him and his family on a series of events that ultimately destroyed
the family and the generations to come.
It can be seen that in The God of Small Things, Roy creates a world seen
though the eyes of a viable die-able aged Rahel who sees and smells the small
things in life.  The God of Small Things
is full exotic smells, sights, and experiences that describe the drama of her
life.  In Midnight’s Children Saleem’s
connection with his nose lets him recall the evens of the past. He remarks at
one point that the “pickle-fumes stimulate the juice of memory.”  Thus, in both books the sense of smell and
use of noses is used to heighten and enhance the experience of each novel.

Smells plays so many roles in these novels that they need to be broken down into
segments.  Smells help describe forbidden love, to describe people, and it was used to describe “the small things” like
failure, feelings, and even food.  Smells and noses lead the characters of each novel through their lives.  It helps them put things into perspective and answer questions for them.  Smells remain
a constant and anchor memories of the past with them.  In both novels smells are used many times for a better understanding of the situation.

In Midnight’s Children certain smells and sensory experiences help to describe numerous important scenes.  The perfumed Coca-Cola girls and fizzy drinks disguised the “scent of failure”.  This one sentence about Ahmed and his
“secret” relationships can be broken down to see the sensory relationships.  Ahmed’s failure as a husband and businessman are apparent; he has lost the love of Amina and his money has been squandered by false hopes of big business dreams.  In order to compensate and mask his “scent of failure” in both aspects of life he covers himself with Coca-Cola girls and fizzy drinks.  Coca-Cola referring to the taste of a soda, and the fizzy drinks appealing to the sense of smell and the use of the nose that sniffs up the fizzy bubbles before a sip.  Rushdie intertwines so many uses of senses in order to give the reader the complete experience and importance of a scene.

Many smells in these novels are used accentuate the importance of a situation.  When Tai the boatman purposefully lets his
body becoming filthy and smelly, it is to make a point to Aadam Aziz in order to get his feelings across properly.  The
smell of Tai the Boatman is like his words are unmistakable. Tai prophesies what is to come and his words stick in the Aziz/Sinai family because as the saying goes, “Smells like music hold memory.”  In contrast the Sinai family uses smells in order to cover or mask their emotions.  Such emotions like anger, guilt, shame, and envy are covered up by “so called helpful or kind gestures”, well spiced meals, or false words.  Smell even is used repeatedly to drive home the feelings of a little man named Estha.  The smell, “Sicksweet.  Like old roses on a breeze.” (Roy, 8) This smell is one that Estha had taken on when he was a young boy at Sohpie Mol’s funeral and one that would stick with him as he was returned to his father.  This smell leaves a lasting impression on the
boy who had to many images on his mind.  “Cold handcuffs with a sourmetal smell.  Like steel bus rails and the conductor’s hand holding them.” (Roy, 31)  The sourmetal smell of a conductor’s hand bringing them back to a time when they were nearly born on a bus and its relation to what brought goose bumps on their skin because of the handcuffs that were placed on Velutha’s destroyed body.  The sour metal smell conjures up thoughts and memories about the past in their lives.   These scenes from the
novels give a brief introduction into how smell plays an important role.  Senses and smells become even more important
when forbidden love occurs and love laws are broken.

Love laws are described in The God of Small Things, as they way certain people should “love” each other.  If these laws are not followed than the love is not proper and rules are thus being broken.  In both novels love laws are broken.  It is easy to see how they are broke.  What is more interesting is how each author conveys the breaking of the rules.
It can be seen on numerous occasions when the rules are broke that the authors are appealing to the senses to drive home their point.  Specifically, the sense of smell is used to aid the reader in learning about the love and being able to remember it just as
those who were in love did.  Smells don’t change and when in the years after love has been established, smells bring the
people in love back to a place and time of comfort and happiness.  Smells are not biased.  A wealthy man can smell horrible because he plays with filthy money all day, and a poor man can smell like roses because he has to sleep outside with no house to be had.  Therefore, a close look at smells and their relationship to forbidden love in each novel is a very interesting topic.

A good start for the topic of forbidden love and smells can be seen in a couple
who most readers would not think of first.  The first couple was one of the first to have a “forbidden love”, they
met because of faith, and it was faith they kept them separate.  Baby Kochamma and Father Mulligan shared an interesting “forbidden love” in such a way that it was never actually fulfilled.  Baby Kochamma became a nun in
order to be closer to the man she loved, a man that she knew she could never really be with.  It was enough for Baby to just be close to him.  “Close enough to smell his beard.  To see the weave of his cassock.  To love him just by looking at him.” (Roy, 25)  This use of the senses, smell and sight give Baby something to hold onto forever.   She remembers always the smell of the man
that she was so close to but could never really have.  Eventually Baby would try to replace the love she felt for this man with TV.  She used TV as an outlet to forget her true desires.  She became a different person; a woman who was once old and mature
became increasingly “baby-ish” with old age.  The inability for her to be with the man she loved haunted her forever,
as she would write that she loved him in her diary every night.

Saleem’s sense of smell deepens and alters with the addition of a literal one so that he
can now smell human nature along with the emotions in food, city, streets and
homes, and even within himself. Saleem begins to sniff out the dirty smells of
his country, and had relations with the “dirty” whores liked old Tai Bibi, who
can master the scent of anyone on earth.
This ability to master any scent on earth is what draws Saleem in.  Saleem begins to break the “love laws” and
visit the whore Tai Bibi who like Tai the Boatman tinkers with his stench in
order to make those she deals with feel certain emotions.  Saleem begins to be drawn to her because she
smells like his sister, the now famous Jamilia Singer.  Saleem is therefore brought back to a time
when he sister was still the Brass Monkey and he felt certain emotions for her
that were ones that also broke “love laws.”
This was a time when Saleem went to his sister and he could smell the
“shame and horror” of her reaction.  In the heat of “passion”, Tai Bibi
brings out this forbidden scent of his beloved sister. The use of smell brings
up so many emotions that Saleem feels.
Thus, Tai Bibi and Tai the Boatman use their smells to influence Aadam
Aziz and his grandson Saleem.  In
Saleem’s case it brings back all the emotions of a true love that broke all the
rules and was never able to be consummated.

In comparison a final look at The God of Small things reveals how one of the
deepest and truest loves becomes remembered most by the smell related to the
untouchable class.  In this case the
untouchable smell that one of that class has, becomes a smell that makes Ammu
want to “touch, feel, learn, and live” and Mammachi almost vomit.  The Paravan smell that is related to the
untouchable class is what gets correlated with Velutha.  Velutha is the man who becomes Ammu’s love of
her life, her true love that lasts but a brief second in her life.  However, it is a love that brings the
downfall of a family and the splitting of two-egged twins.  A quote from The God of Small things on page
218 can sum up the love of Velutha and Ammu as well as shedding some light on
the love that Rahel and Estha share.
Both loves’ break love laws, this meaning that there is something in
society that deems these relationships however based in true, real love to be
wrong.  Wrong in the way that they should
not happen, however because of the circumstances it is these societal “wrong
loves” that bring out true happiness and comfort.  The quote begins, “The Great Stories are the
ones you have heard and want to hear again.
The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably.  They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick
endings.  They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen.  They are as familiar as the house you live in.  Or the smell of your lover’s skin.(Roy, 218)  This single quote tells so much.  It can be broken down to show that
the great stories mean great loves and that just as you can hear them over and over again, you can be with that person for the rest of your life without getting tired of them.  No matter what, the stories or the loves are comforting and reassuring.  There is no trick ending to the story or the love, you know that it will end in a certain way and that doesn’t matter ecause the only thing that does is love. Finally, the relation to the house you live in can be taken in many ways
as being a familiar icon of your life but it can also be seen as relating to
the history house where all the true love in this novel takes place and comes
to an end.  Then the relation to the
smell of you lover’s skin is truly relative to a lasting impression that
appeals to the senses.  The sense that
“Smells like music, hold memories”, and in this case the memories break love
laws but are the only ones that are about true and meaningful love.  The love that is invoked by these smells is
one that will last forever.

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